“The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart”
Romans 10:8, quoting Deuteronomy 30:14
Approaching the mid-point in Lent, please take a moment to return to the start of this season and ponder the notion of the Word.
Speaking (word), God created the world: let there be light. In the Eucharistic prayer, we ask (beseech) God, “with thy Word and Holy Spirit, to bless and sanctify these gifts of bread and wine, that they may be unto us the Body and Blood of thy dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ.”
The Word brings God’s very presence and vitality to us. We seek the Word literally (and not) in our holy scriptures for scripture is both ancient and living, and a space to encounter God.
Today I urge each of us to spend more time with scripture. Our Bible is the story of our lives in God and the history of God’s relationship to humanity and this world. Reading, meditating upon and discussing/debating scripture deepens our lives in Christ. As with any intimate relationship, there is no substitute for time spent together and deep listening.
Each Sunday worship service includes four passages of Scripture in addition to the Bible quoted in our liturgy. It is wonderful to hear these each week, but to reflect upon these lessons more deeply is a treasure. The homily can help us pay attention more closely, but exploring the text in community and for ourselves yields more gifts.
Every Thursday we gather to explore the details of the story and specific words, comparing our translations, perhaps looking at maps, and gaining a sense of history and daily life at the time of the writing. This is great fun as we ask questions that surprise us and debate what each passage means for the day-in, day-out of our own lives, individually and in community.
Each Sunday our children’s Sunday school class does the same. They read the story, ask questions, and talk about its meaning in their lives, sharing deeply in the safe space of the group.
The memory verses from Bible study and Sunday school keep the word very near us on our lips and our hearts. Knowing a passage of scripture by heart sustains our very being when times are hard, when we are about to choose a superficial life of self-focus, when we feel joy or sorrow. In this season the word can keep us from temptation. Jesus and the Devil spoke in scripture to one another, and, yes, the Devil can quote scripture. The difference is the heart. When we turn to scripture, we are to approach the Word grounded in God’s love.
Time spent with the Word never is wasted. A regular practice of reading and debating scripture helps keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God. In this we come to trust God more deeply and strengthen our lives in Christ.
The Word is very Near you. In the Word, our hearts draw closer to the heart of God and our lips can share the Word of life with those who need to hear it. Finally, our hearts and lips turn Word to action in lives of loving service.
Let’s dare to spend time with the Word this season and commit our hearts and lips to God.
With every blessing,